HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — It was a long road for supporters of medical cannabis to persuade the Alabama Legislature to make it legally available in the state.

Now, more than a year after the legislature approved a program to grow, process, and distribute medical marijuana, the licensing application process is in full swing.

There are plenty of interested businesses and a key deadline is approaching.

Last month saw the deadline to file for an application and Dec. 31 is the application filing deadline, according to the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission (AMCC). The commission has not formally announced when medical marijuana will become available, but given that the commission won’t vote on license awards until June 12, it appears that it will be late 2023 at the earliest before availability.

AMCC is taking applications for six major areas,  including cultivation, processing, dispensaries, lab testing, distribution, and integrated facilities. The licenses don’t come cheap, a cultivator license costs $40,000 to start, and so does a dispensary license and an integrated facility license is $50,000, but there are plenty of applicants.

There are 133 applicants for five licenses for an integrated facility, which includes everything from cultivation to processing to dispensing to transport. Those licenses allow for five dispensaries per license.

State records show there are 124 cultivator, or grower, applications for 12 licenses.

There are four licenses available to become a processor – those who turn cannabis into medical marijuana — and the state reports there are 35 applicants.

Dispensary, basically distribution and sales, is the most popular category, with 239 applicants for 4 licenses — though each licensee can establish 3 dispensaries.

There are no license limits for lab testing sites — but there are seven applicants, and secure transport has 69 applicants and also no limits on licenses.

Jefferson County has the most applications across the areas listed at 131. Montgomery County residents are second in applications filed at 51 and Madison County has 49 applications, including 28 for dispensaries, 8 for integrated facilities, and three for cultivator applicants.